Equity of the European Educational Systems

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1 European Group of Research on Equity of the Educational Systems Equity of the European Educational Systems A set of indicators A project supported by the European Commission Directorate General of Education and Culture Project Socrates SO2-61OBGE

2 Edited by: Department of Theoretical and Experimental Education University of Liège Boulevard du Rectorat 5 (B32) B 4000 Liège Belgium Tél. : Fax :

3 The authors wish to convey their sincere gratitude to the European Commission s representatives, who supported them throughout the project: Mr. A. Hingel (Head of Unit), Mrs. A. Vegliante, Mr. J.-Y. Stefani and Mrs. Y. Villar. The authors also benefited from the valuable advice of the representatives of Eurydice, and, in particular, would like to thank Mrs. A. Delhaxhe for her contribution. They also wish to thank the Direction de l Evaluation et de la Prospective [Directorship of Evaluation and Estimates] and, particularly, Mrs. Nauze-Fichet for the sample drawing intended for the survey about justice. Other experts were consulted and the authors would like to emphasise the role of Professor P. Bréchon (IEP, Grenoble), as well as that of Mr. Ch. Monseur (Acer). Finally, the authors would like to thank Anne Matoul (French translation) and Céline Géron (making up) for their availability and the quality of their job.

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5 Contents Introduction...7 Part I. Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how?...9 Why devise indicators of the equity of educational systems Equality and Equity...11 Eight guiding principles for a set of indicators...20 Part II. A set of indicators on the equity of educational systems A. Context of inequalities in education Individual consequences of education Economic and social inequalities Cultural resources Aspirations and perceptions...44 B. Inequalities in the education process Quantity of education received Quality of education received...54 C. Inequalities in education Skills Personal development School careers...68 D. Social and political effects of inequalities in education Education and social mobility Benefits of education for the disadvantaged Collective effects of inequalities...76 Part III. The equity of European educational systems : An interpretation of the 29 indicators What is the importance of inequalities within the educational systems of the European Union? What advantages are tied to education in the European Union Member States? Do the European Union s educational systems have a role in amplifying or reducing contextual inequalities? To what extend do educational inequalities benefit the disadvantaged and encourage social mobility? Conclusions To go further References Annex: Technical notes about the indicators Annex: European pilot survey about feelings of justice at school

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7 Introduction Equity of the European Educational Systems. A Set of Indicators is the result of collaboration between six European university teams, and was carried out as part of the Socrates programme, with the support of the European Commission. The project is intended to measure and compare the equity of the education systems in the European Union Member States 1. Thanks to it, decision-makers and users will be informed of the equity of the existing systems. This informative tool may help decision-makers to redefine the educational politics. This publication reports on a two-year period work on the issue of the equity of educational systems. It is structured into three main sections: A first part, entitled Devising indicators of equity of educational systems: why and how?, defines the concepts of equality and equity, and presents the framework of indicators and its guiding principles. The second part, A set of indicators on the equity of the educational systems, presents the twenty-nine indicators built in the context of this project and organized according to the framework. The third part, The equity of European educational systems. An interpretation of the 29 indicators, presents an analytical interpretation of the equity indicators. 1 At the very moment when this project started in May 2001,the European Union had 15 member states. The built indicators and presented here concern these 15 countries (plus Norway and Switzerland). At the end, the set of indicators should be able to be extended to the 25 member states the EU has today. 7

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9 PART 1 Devising indicators of equity of educational systems: why and how?

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11 Why devising indicators on the equity of education systems? Indicators measuring inequalities have been appearing for a long time in international publications dealing with education, particularly in the OECD Education at a Glance, and in Key data on education in Europe, the regular publication of the European Commission prepared by Eurydice. The various reports produced as a result of international evaluations of students achievement (for instance, OECD, 2001; Beaton et al., 1996) also contain indicators on inequalities. In addition, several international education research programmes have proposed comparisons (Shavit and Blossfeld, 1993; Müller and Karle, 1993) in important fields like social inequalities in school careers. Other international surveys (European Households Panel, European Value Survey, Luxembourg Income Study, etc.) also provide interesting information, as do certain national surveys. However, the latter do pose sizeable compatibility issues. The work carried out in the context of Action of the Socrates Programme was made possible by the European Commission and the national contributions of the participating partners. It was initiated by certain members of the ad hoc group on equity issues (OECD) convened in Geneva by Norberto Bottani and Walo Hutmacher. A publication by this group (Hutmacher, Cochrane and Bottani, 2001) provided a first theoretical framework of indicators (Meuret, 2001b) on which basis the current project took shape. The new feature of this work is its systematic by determining the principles to propose some points of reference in a broad and relatively new field and comparative approach of the equity of European educational systems. This comparative approach has been adopted for several reasons. It seems that in Europe, equity in education is rapidly becoming a major political issue. Furthermore, the publication of indicators can help to raise and to structure the related democratic debate. Even in the 60 s, when scientists of different countries put into evidence the persistence of social inequalities in school careers, this topic did not really represent a political problem: citizens did not consider national governments as responsible for the inequalities that were felt as injustice and did not select the politicians according to their (in)ability to reduce such inequalities. The quantitative democratisation in terms of access to education and wealth undoubtedly helped to hide new and less obvious inequalities. However, in other countries, fairness in education became a political issue. In the United States, for instance, the Supreme Courts of several states had to rule on complaints made by associations fighting for civil rights against the organization of certain educational systems. Kentucky is the most famous example 2. While education was not a matter decided at the federal level of authority, educational choices played an important role in the last presidential campaign. In Europe, this type of concern has not yet emerged with the same acuteness, but it is likely to quickly rise up. 2 About Kentucky?? Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how? 11

12 So, European citizens are becoming more and more demanding in relation to an education system perceived both as expensive, and which no longer offers guaranteed career prospects or a future. At the same time, the social consequences of failure at school are considered as increasingly important. Moreover, the idea that children and young people must also be treated justly is gaining ground. Consequently, educative systems are being given increasingly precise targets, which are, in some cases, quantified, in terms of both efficiency and equity. At the same time, the criticism of redistribution of wealth as practised in its classic form by the Welfare state is developing since this practice is considered as personal-responsibility reductive. That criticism is leading to make the financing and management of education into the principal means available to the state to maintain within limits that are compatible with justice, not only the inequality of opportunities, but also the inequality of income 3. At the very moment when the state itself does recognize it as one of its major tasks, individuals are going to care more about the equity with which education is distributed. Therefore, education, and the equity of its distribution, will become a political issue in the precise terms that were mentioned above. The premises of this can already be seen. For instance, a French survey conducted in July 2000 on four hundred parents, showed that only 31 % of employee parents, compared with 65 % of executive parents, found that secondary education schools treated students equally (Challenge, 2000). On the other hand, another survey conducted in Switzerland, pointed out that 70 % of Swiss adults considered that school itself has a considerable responsibility in creating educational inequalities (Hutmacher, 2001). However, people do not judge government only on the equity of education. They also take an interest in the way in which the distribution of educational assets respects their rights. For example, freedom to choose schools constitutes a basic, or even a constitutional right, that cannot be limited by a concern for fairness (Brighouse, 2000). They are also interested in the efficiency of their educational system, i.e. its cost, its internal and external efficiency, or its capacity to pass on skills that are useful to society and to the nation. The emphasis on equity does not replace any other concern. On the contrary, citizens are demanding both efficiency and equity. They are no longer prepared to settle for speeches explaining the inequalities either by the regrettable necessities of competition for efficiency, or the absence of efficiency by a virtuous choice in favour of the weakest members of society. They need to have indications about efficiency and equity, since they can no longer settle for indicators about the former (Education at a Glance, for example) and pious wishes about the second. It is for this reason that it is essential to publish indicators about the equity of educational systems with the intention of providing useful information to the citizens as well as to those responsible for the educational system. These indicators are intended to provide a needed supplement to the information already available about costs and results. Before presenting the guidelines adopted to select the indicators on the one hand and the set which resulted from them on the other hand, the following chapter introduces the reasons for which the idea of equity has been preferred rather than the idea of equality. 3 Pay inequalities are partly due to a mismatch between supply and demand for skilled workers, which in turn depend on training policies. 12 Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how?

13 Equality and Equity Beyond formal equality Anyone who talks about equity rather than equality is generally suspected of having abandoned a safe territory and a clear concept for a minefield and a fuzzy concept. For many of the supporters of egalitarian views, the main appeal of this new positioning would be to justify unjustifiable inequalities for the benefit of the dominant class. Therefore, some explanation is required on this point. It is true that equity is a more difficult concept than equality, and that it allows, in its principle, inequalities; nevertheless, it is a concept that allows to go beyond a purely formal examination to perform a multidimensional analysis. In fact, a strictly egalitarian vision, which would aim to give everyone the same treatment, while ignoring the characteristics of each individual at the outset, or even, the results in terms of reproduction of the initial inequalities, would force us to question its very foundations, precisely for reasons of equality. Therefore, the majority of authors political philosophers or economists who endeavour to define equity consider that an equitable situation is less inegalitarian than the strictly egalitarian approach. However, authors like Nozick (1974) and, in general, libertarian authors, argue that inequalities that are produced by a process which does not infringe "legitimate property rights are themselves legitimate. This leads them to assert that all public policies aimed at reducing them are, by nature, illegitimate (for a presentation of Libertarian theories, see for example Kymlicka, 1999 or Van Parijs, 1991). The famous words by Amartya Sen (1992): Equality of what? enable us to better understand why we need to go beyond the concept of formal equality. Indeed, the most widely accepted principle of justice meritocracy allows infinite inequalities in levels of schooling, provided that they reward individual merit, which is difficult to define. The only equality in education which almost everyone agrees with, the equality of opportunities, is a hypothetical equality. As Rawls (1987) says: Assuming that there is a distribution of natural assets, those who are at the same level of talent and ability, and have the same willingness to use them should have the same prospects of success, regardless of their initial place in the social system (p. 73). This approach relies on concepts with questionable operationality: talent, ability and even desire; how can they be measured or even assessed? The social inequalities in relation to school are, on the other hand, so obvious that we must criticize their scale or be pleased when they are reduced, but it is a quite different matter to decide whether fairness requires, whatever the cost in the other dimensions, exact equality of school careers between social groups. In fact, what the concept of fairness answers to Sen s question is equality of persons, political equality and equality in dignity. The discussion about equity begins when it is necessary to define the assets that should be equalized according to this principle (Sen, 1982) or which principles of distribution equity demands for such or such type of good (Rawls, 1971;Walzer, 1983). Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how? 13

14 Let us accept, for the time being, the general idea that a fair educational system is a system that treats all pupils as equals and which aims to encourage a fair society, in which essential assets are distributed in accordance with the rules of justice and which encourages cooperation on an equal footing. One immediately understands that such a definition of equity demands that certain educational assets are distributed equally teachers of identical quality, for example but that other assets are distributed in proportion between contribution and reward marks, punishment, the careers accessible with the same qualifications, for example that the inequalities in others should not be excessive, that more of certain assets are given to the best pupils (longer education) and more of other assets to the less able pupils (better ratio of students to teaching staff or specialized education), etc. This rapid analysis shows that a strictly egalitarian approach is impossible and that we must take account of a multiplicity of principles of justice, assets connected with education or groups of individuals. To answer Sen, it must be specified which equalities we are talking about and, by doing this, envisaging the discussion in terms of equity. Education : Equality of what? Adapted from Grisay (1984), the following table gives an overall vision of the five major principles of equality in terms of education, and presents the postulates and the consequences of these various principles of justice. The first concept, not specified by Grisay and marked A, refers to a natural, or libertarian concept. Only concepts B to E, really draw on the principles of equality (see also Demeuse, Crahay, Monseur, 2001). Whether we talk about equal opportunities, equal treatment, equal achievement or equal results, we stumble over the practical or theoretical limitations connected with the adoption of a particular theory. So, in the first case (B), the wish is that the social background does not influence success at school, but this is subject to criticism by those who claim that this leaves the possibility open to give better educational conditions to those with greater ability, which is traditionally know as the Matthew effect 4. In the second case (C), the same educational conditions are given to all, but this is open to criticism from those who think that some people, because they suffer from a handicap of one kind or another, need better educational conditions. In the third case (D), equality of results is desired, at least for a certain level of knowledge, but this comes up against those who claim that by pursuing this objective, the best pupils are deprived of the possibility of progressing as far as possible, which is referred to as the Robin Hood effect 5. 4 " For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (Matthew, Ch. 13:12). 5 Like Robin Hood, who robbed the rich and redistributed to the poor, the time the teachers should devote to the weakest pupils to help them to progress would be taken from the best pupils. 14 Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how?

15 Table 1. Five principles of equality in education (adapted from Grisay, 1984, p. 7). Assumed Admitted Criticized Recommended A No interest in equity: natural and libertarian positions Birth, strength or belonging to a particular group determine rights. Liberty can only suffer from forced redistribution. Reproduction and maintenance of the "natural" order and differences based on fair acquisition. Possibly, inequalities in groups of peers. Interventions contrary to liberty. A stable order, a sharing of functions (society of castes, orders, etc.) or a system based on liberty of the actors. The existence of talents, of potential or natural aptitudes. These define the level or threshold that the individual may hope to achieve. The capacity of all to undertake basic learning, and therefore benefit from basic education. Potential for extended learning. Individual characteristics (cognitive or affective) can be modified. Differences in learning styles. Different individual, motivational and cultural characteristics, but without any hierarchy existing between them. B Equality of access or opportunities Unequal results, provided that they are proportional to aptitudes at the start. Existence of courses of study of unequal value. Inequality of treatment. The existence of natural talents, potential or aptitudes. Unequal results, on the condition that pupils were able to benefit from learning conditions of equivalent quality. C Equality of treatment The fact that merit is not the only criterion for access to the most highly-regarded courses. Socio-cultural bias affecting guidance tests. Imperfections in the evaluations responsible for the fact that, although of equal competence, one pupil succeeds and another fails. Unequal quality of teaching, responsible for unequal achievement. Elite schools, ghetto schools, streamed classes, explicit and implicit courses of study that engender unequal quality of education. D Equality of achievement or academic success Differences in results beyond The ideology of talents. the essential skills. Negative discrimination (including streamed classes, courses, elite schools and ghetto schools), i.e. all the situations where unequal quality of teaching amplifies the inequalities at the outset. E Equality of social fulfilment (social output) Differences in profile of the The existence of a single results. standard for excellence. An elite culture and a subculture. Objective and scientific detection of talents, and scientific methods of orientation. Equality of access to long courses of study, for children of equal aptitude from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds. A school made to measure, i.e. a varied system of options and courses of education adapted to the ability of students. Aid to gifted pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds (scholarships, etc.). The Single-level or Comprehensive school, and particularly, the common core for lower secondary education. Equality of achievement for the essential skills. Positive discrimination, mastery learning, formative assessment, as well as all the support mechanisms aimed at reducing the initial inequalities. Individualized instruction. From equality to equity While the set of equity indicators lets the debate open between these different understandings of equality, its main objective is to initiate a discussion about the equity of educational systems in a broader aspect. It is true that the theories presented here above at least about equality of access or opportunities (B), about equality of treatment (C) and about equality of achievement or academic success (D) are limited in a double sense: First, they are local theories about justice, which consider education as a final asset (except for the principle about equality of social fulfilment (E) ). The consequence of the distribution of education on social justice what can be called external equity, by analogy with the Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how? 15

16 difference made by the economists between internal efficiency and external efficiency of education, is not taken into account. For instance, discussions about equality of assets do not consider the nature of the main skills that are to be reached, those skills being linked to the skills required for adult life. Secondly, they are intuitionist theories (in Rawls meaning, 1972) because they can rely on several principles of justice that are not organized into a hierarchy because they are not explained and, consequently, that are likely to contradict each other. For instance, the equality of treatment can be supported by the defenders of the equality of results who think that the first one will be sufficient to get the second one, as well as the defenders of the principle of natural reward who think that the reward (in this case, what is learnt) has to be proportionate to the effort (Trannoy, 1999). A pessimistic approach of the situation would consist in considering it is not worth measuring inequalities in education since their consequences on really important inequalities (that affect adult life) are not known, or since the same inequalities will be considered as unfair by some and as legitimate by others. Since the publication of A Theory of Justice by Rawls in 1972, a debate has been ongoing within political philosophy. Several general theories have been developed, in which it is possible to imagine justice in education while avoiding local and intuitionist approaches: for instance, Walzer s (1997) theory of spheres of justice, Sen s (1982, 1992) theory of capabilities, or theories of responsibility (Arneson (1989), Roemer (1996), among others), which require that rewards should be proportionate to efforts and, consequently, that inequalities of talents, for which individuals are not responsible, should be balanced by opposite inequalities of resources. For our objective, what does matter is that none of these theories is universally recognized. The existence of several theories does not mean they invalidate each other, but rather leads to consider the issue of justice within a framework of the discussion they provoke. Thus, a set of indicators is useful because it provides input to that fact and comparison debate. Comparisons are all the more important because an inequality, however the theories of justice do judge it, is inequitable only if it is avoidable (Whitehead, 1991). Furthermore, this last condition is the favourite argument of the defenders of non-taking action. However, it is not because no country succeeded to avoid an inequality that it is enough to prove this last one is unavoidable, it can just mean that none of those countries did what was needed to avoid that inequality. On the other hand, as long as a state did not succeed to reduce to the lowest level an inequality considered as inequitable by a theory of justice, this state will be blameworthy according to the principle of that theory. The indicators presented here are intended to provide input to the debate on justice in education, by offering some elements of response to the following questions: To what extent do individual educational inequalities have major social consequences for the individuals? What is the importance of those inequalities? Are they due mainly to the context, or rather to the process of the educational system? Are they used to help the disadvantaged? What is the importance of educational inequalities between girls and boys or between groups of different social, economic or national origins? To what extent are they due 16 Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how?

17 to the societal context or rather due to the process of the educational system? To what extent are they aggravated by the society or the labour market? To what extent does being below a minimum skill threshold have important consequences for the individuals in and outside the school context? What is the proportion of individuals who find themselves below that threshold? What proportion of each group is beneath that threshold? Is the fact of being below the threshold due mainly to the socio-economic context or rather to the educational system itself? Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how? 17

18 Eight guiding principles for a set of indicators To devise the indicators successfully in a systematic and collegial way, the multi-disciplinary international team drew up a basic framework. This is what structured all the indicators which will be presented in the second part of this publication. The structure adopted has been modelled by examining existing literature which generated several guiding principles and determined the design and selection of the indicators. A first principle Principle 1 The indicators must enable to discuss in the context of the various existing principles of justice, and not only fit one of them. In order to answer, as broadly as possible, the various questions that arose, without predetermining the answer according to a particular principle, it has been considered as essential to let the various tendencies take over the indicators, so that their vision of justice can be compared with the collected data. The main approaches to justice applicable to education are, if the libertarian 6 and communitarian 7 principles are excluded : - Utilitarianism, which judges the equity by the maximisation of the overall quantity of education passed on, or by the relevance of the meritocratic sorting process combined with an optimum definition of the various levels of education to be attained. In the initial analysis, this principle refers rather to an approach based on efficiency; - Rawls theory, which stipulates that, under control of certain liberties, the production of education should encourage the fair equality of social opportunities and that the other inequalities of education, in particular the inequalities of skills between the more and less educated, must be turned to the benefit of the most disadvantaged 8. - Walzer s theory of spheres of justice (1997), for which the criteria is that the inequalities in education must be independent from the inequalities observed in other spheres (economical, political, ); - The responsibility theory (Roemer, 1996, Fleurbaey, 1996) endeavours to combine several principles to imagine a fair allocation of resources between individuals defined by their "talent this word defines everything for which they are not responsible and their effort for which they are responsible (Fleurbaey, 1996). 6 These do not come under an approach using indicators, but only a juridical approach. Although libertarians could perhaps be interested in indicators about the degrees of liberty offered by educational systems. 7 We shall not be dealing with communitarian theories either (Sandel, Taylor), which are presented and compared with liberal theories in Berten et al. (1997) and in Kymlicka (1999). They stipulate that equity can only be founded on more fundamental values than itself, those values that weld the community together, and therefore the definition of a just society may vary from one community to another, which probably invalidates attempts like ours. 8 On the application of Rawls Theory of Justice to education, see Meuret (1999). For a presentation of these theories in greater depth, see Benadusi (2001) and Meuret (2001a). 18 Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how?

19 Trannoy (1999) applies it to education, proposing a combination of the principle of compensation ( Equal achievement for equal work ) and the principle of natural reward ( Equal resources for equal talent) during the school career of a single individual. - Sen s theory (1982, 1992), which stipulates that individuals must have equal capabilities to achieve modes of "functioning that they have reasons to enhance. According to this first principle, the fields that would be covered had to be selected, and a joint method of collecting and processing the data had to be determined. The adopted procedure was structured by devising a two-dimensional framework in which the equity indicators would be incorporated. The first axis of the framework the horizontal axis which structures it into columns serves as the theoretical support for collection, analysis and presentation of the data. The second axis the vertical axis that cuts the framework into rows enables us to determine and structure the fields of research (Table 2, p.24). Structuring the framework into columns Two guiding principles led to the organisation of the framework in columns. Principle 2 The relevant educational inequalities for the majority of assets distributed in the context of educational systems may be grouped into three main families: the discrepancies between individuals, the inequalities between categories, and the proportion of individuals who find themselves below a minimum threshold. The contribution of Rawls, Walzer and Sen s theories led to consider justice in education from three angles. 1. The individual skill inequalities must not jeopardize the social cooperation. The first approach, which corresponds to the first column of the framework, is that of inequalities between individuals. But why should we be interested in inequalities between individuals? It is important to be interested in them, first of all, with a political aim. Rawls (1987) is less in favour of a redistribution of a democrat social type than of a owner democracy, in which the inequalities of primary income are limited : the political equality and thus, the quality of the democratic process is better assured like that. If a too large inequality of wealth threatens the political right equality, a too large school skill inequality also threatens it. Furthermore, the fair equality of opportunities as well as a limited distance between the skills of the least and the best qualified are required conditions to enable everybody to feel oneself taking part to social life, on an equal basis, which is undoubtedly the final objective of the theory of Justice 9. If school must help to make a society altogether, it must not produce too large discrepancies between individuals. Rawls brings about also another argument: of the reached skill level, when compared with the others, constitutes one of the bases of self-respect, then the rawlsian rules are to be applied, particularly the one asserting that fair education inequalities are those 9 «When the individuals trust the pleasure they can have when applying their own capacities, they are ready to appreciate the perfection of the others, particularly when the plurality of their excellences find a place in a form of life of which everyone does accept the objectives.» (1987) Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how? 19

20 that turn out to be necessary to maximise the self-respect (or education) of the individuals who have the least of it. So it appears that we may increase the level of the best ones, only if the level of the weakest ones increases still more, so as to reduce the difference. On the other hand, it is needed to analyse the individual inequalities with an economic approach. OECD (2001) mentions in that perspective the issues of reciprocal understanding and adjustment in the institutions as a reason to limit the inequalities at school. But is it possible to attribute to the school, and not to intelligence, effort or family background differences, the main responsibility for the production of individual skill inequalities? While this idea can seem exaggerated, it must be considered that school, from the lowest nursery level to the top of the system, increases a lot the inequalities produced by these three sources, favouring systematically the strongest rather than the weakest, through teachers least conscious and most daily behaviours, through the most ordinary and, so far, the least perceived aspects of the school life. School itself, through its present organisation, increases the inequalities of capacities between individuals, theoretically for the good of all. One of the limits of that first approach is that a measure, on a common scale, of the skills of those who left the earliest and the latest the education system, is not easy to design. The used discrepancies are those observed at the end of compulsory education, at the age of 15. However, it seems that the skill differences measured at that age are not without external consequence: in the IEA surveys, the countries where the mathematics skill discrepancies are the largest are also the countries where wage inequalities are the most important (Bedart & Ferrall, 2003). 2. The social membership of an individual must not handicap his/her school success. (to be completed) The second, which corresponds to the second column, is that of inequalities between groups. It illustrates the principle of equal opportunities and that of the independence of spheres. 3. No student may leave the educative system while being below the minimum skill threshold, in order to have a decent life in the modern society. We can refer this threshold to the equality of functionings by Sen (1982, 1992) particularly the one he defines as: having self respect or to the basic curriculum that everyone must master, according to Walzer (1997). Being below certain skills thresholds is probably the educational situation that can have the most serious social consequences for the individual. Of course, the definition of the threshold and therefore of skills that are situated below and beyond it, may vary. Several documents from the European Commission refer to the employability of individuals by the productive machine. Several authors refer to minimum skills to participate in democratic life, and to assert one s rights (Gutmann, 1999; Benadusi, 2001). At this level, it is also necessary to take an interest in the presence of certain special groups below the threshold. Indeed, it is not irrelevant to observe that most individuals below a threshold belong to a same group, or that, on the other hand, they appear to share no common and intrinsic characteristics. 20 Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how?

21 In the pilot study that was carried out 10, 10 % of students questioned chose the first principle; 53 % the second principle and 37 % the third (indicator A.4.2). Therefore, these principles correspond well, to varying degrees, to criteria of justice found among students. Principle 3 Among relevant categories of individuals, the most important are those from which the individual cannot escape. The bias adopted in the second column of the framework, the examination of inequalities between groups, led to determine the criteria to define and differentiate categories of individuals. This choice is imperfect, because the concept of what is important is historically determined. Even the most generous souls of thirty-five years ago would not have seen any problem if inequalities between boys and girls did not appear in such a system. Actually, establishing relevant categories is more a matter for political or social movements than for administrators or philosophers themselves (Orfield, 2001). However, the authors hope that the devised system of indicators will be able to identify what is causing problems from the point of view of justice according to the shared conscience of our time. It is one of the reasons that made them undertake a survey on the student s criteria of justice. The priority categories must be, in the authors opinion, those to which the individual belongs whether he/she wants to or not. One might consider, for example, that geographical inequalities are less important than others are, to the extent that it is possible to leave an under-equipped region, whereas it is impossible to change social origins, nationality, gender 11 or to escape a disability from birth. Actually, we calculated indicators for three categories of individuals, according to the socioeconomic status, their nationality and their gender. Structuring the framework into rows Once the three angles of approach have been determined for analysing the justice in education, it was necessary to make a selection of the areas of research that would not only enable several concepts of justice to exist side by side, in accordance with our first principle, but also, in accordance with the objective of the project, to compare different educational systems, particularly on the basis of the assets they produce. Principle 4 Among the assets distributed by the educational system, we need to concentrate on those where fair distribution is more important for individuals or for the democratic life of the country. The assets distributed by the educational system are the immediate results of schooling (knowledge, attitudes, skills, qualifications), as well as its mediate results (social position, professional status, employability) and certain aspects of the educational process (length of 10 For details about the European pilot survey on the feelings on justice at school, see the annex. 11 A certain amount of attention needs to be paid to the overlaps between categories (girls and boys from minorities do not have the same behaviour, the same careers at school), and the fact that the assets that pose a problem may not be the same from one category to another. For example, it is difficult to claim today that girls are disadvantaged from the viewpoint of the duration of their studies, while they may be disadvantaged for certain courses of study or for certain aspects of the process. Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how? 21

22 schooling, public spending on schooling), as well as smaller assets, but whose repeated distribution has a high impact on shaping the pupils (punishments, reprimands, smiles, friends, etc.). The assets that form part of the process are less final than those of the first two categories, but they have the advantage of really being assets distributed by the system: skills, qualifications and even more so professional status are, in reality, the result of the use by individuals of services received from the educational system and not direct products from this system. Principle 5 It is important to measure not only the inequalities of the results of education performance or careers, but also inequalities upstream of the education system and those that affect the teaching process itself. The objective is to reach a judgement on the equity of education systems, not only on the equity of the education situation in a given country. This comparative perspective leads to social or economic inequalities located upstream of the education system. Therefore, we must consider both the social context within which the education systems function and on the other hand, the fairness of the processes that characterize that functioning. We know that the creation of educational inequalities mobilizes external and internal phenomena. Sociology has improved our comprehension of external mechanisms, and proposes less deterministic theories these days, that are more open to the possibility of corrective action than thirty years ago (Benadusi, 2001; Duru-Bellat, 2002). However, it is clear that external factors have an influence. Shavit and Blossfeld (1993) concluded that the fall in educational inequality observed in a small number of countries (Sweden, Netherlands) is explained rather by a fall in social inequalities, or the greater security acquired by the poorest people in these countries, instead of by educational reforms. It is logical to think that the greater the inequalities in a country (in wealth, social capital, cultural capital), the more unequal are the resources that each person can devote to education, and the greater the mobilization of these resources by those who possess them, in order to ensure, via success at school, that their children will be wealthy. The measurement of certain dimensions of the context, located upstream of the educational systems, is therefore necessary to understand the educational inequalities and to pronounce judgement on the equity of education systems: if system A has the same educational inequalities as system B, while country A is much more inegalitarian than B, then one has to conclude that education system A is fairer than B. Its compensating effect is actually stronger. However, we know that these external inequalities also act through internal inequalities. Some pupils (poor ones, foreigners, etc.) receive less attention from teachers than other pupils (Sirota, 1988). Another example: the later the branching point between short and long courses of study is situated in a school career, the later the differences in income will come into the cost/benefit calculation for individuals (Boudon, 1973). Furthermore, we know that certain purely internal inequalities have perceptible effects: pupils labelled as poor, those who have to repeat a year, whatever their social origin, receive less attention due to the effect of unequal expectations. We also know that poor and disadvantaged pupils who are sometimes, but not always, the same make less progress than other pupils during a period, less due to their initial handicap (the weak ones) or external handicap (disadvantaged), than due to the fact that they have poorer learning conditions than other pupils (Grisay, 1997). We also know that bringing together weaker pupils is not to their advantage (Slavin, 1987, 1990) or is harmful to 22 Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how?

23 them (Vandenberghe et al., 2001; Duru-Bellat, Mingat,1997), which leads one to consider that the segregated feature of classes and schools in a school system will be an iniquitous factor. However, while according to some theories, the conditions for the inequalities arising do not matter, for others the responsibility theory, for example they are fundamental. If inequalities between pupils can be explained by the fact that resources of lower quality have been given to young pupils with fewer talents, instead of seeking to overcome that weakness by allocating better quality resources, they are unjust. On the other hand, the inequalities are not unjust if they are due to differences in will on the part of pupils 13 or, if they are very young, of their parents. So we also need to provide elements that help to answer the question: does the functioning of the education system play a compensatory role in relation to the inequalities that we inherit, or does it aggravate them? Principle 6 It is important to understand the injustices connected with school life, like the way pupils are treated by the institution, its employees or their classmates. While we should take an interest in the educational process, it is not only that inequalities in process lead to inequalities in the results of education; it is also that some of them are unfair as part of the pupils experience. Although the fact that some pupils are humiliated (Merle, 2002), or despised (Dubet, 1999), will have no impact on their school career, these pupils will still suffer, and will still be victims of iniquity. For a long time, the importance of the school experience was played down. If this is less the case today, that is not only because we are more aware of the role that it plays in the creation of learning inequalities (see above), it is also that it forms an essential element of the political judgement that users (parents, pupils) form of the equity of the system and, through that, about the institutions of their country. That is why we attempted to measure the injustice that affects this daily experience for pupils, by questioning a sample of eighth-grade pupils, as well as their teachers, via a pilot survey on the feeling of justice at school conducted in a sample of schools in the five partner countries. The results of this exploratory study should be taken with extreme caution. The indicators derived from this study are still experimental 14. Principle 7 Because a fair education system is also a system that favours social fairness, the indicators must relate not only to educational inequalities, but also to the social and political effects of those inequalities. The equity of educational systems also depends on phenomena that are located upstream, if one accepts the idea that a fair educational system is not only a system that distributes education equitably, but also a system that distributes education in such a way that it makes society fairer. 13 This subject deserves to be developed, because this personal will can be altered by a realism that censures the most disadvantaged groups more: Nobody in my family ever did well at school, or Workers don t go to university, etc. Other phenomena also interfere with what could be seen as personal aspirations: the sense of betrayal in relation to one s group of origin, social pressure, absence of role models, strange or abstract character of certain disciplines, The analysis of socio-professional expectations depending on which group they belong to would enable light to be shed on this subject. 14 For more information about the coordination, design and administration of the study on the feeling of justice, we refer the reader to the technical annex. Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how? 23

24 The system of indicators explores the social effects of educational inequalities. That exploration can take two forms, individual or collective. The individual arrangement explores the social consequences, for an individual, of being at the top or bottom of the school hierarchy. The collective arrangement explores the effects on social justice of the allocation and use of resources that the education system places at society s disposal, in particular by the most educated people. An example of the relevance of an exploration of the individual effects is as follows: one observes, comparing several countries, that educational equality is greater in those where credentialism is less pronounced, i.e. where the role of qualifications in access to employment is less marked (Duru-Bellat, 1998), as if it is possible to afford greater educational equality when it has no consequences on social inequality. However, if lower inequality of opportunities in education has the consequence that social reproduction uses other channels than education, the gains will be less than if it led to greater social mobility. Likewise, if inequalities in education between nationals and immigrants are particularly low, but the barriers to join the labour market mean that foreigners cannot find a job that matches their qualifications, the effect of the equity of the education system on social equity will be weakened accordingly. The collective effects of educational inequalities may be illustrated in the following way, by drawing on the difference principle proposed by Rawls (1987): depending whether doctors in a country only treat the rich, or rich and poor alike, the spending allocated to training them will be unfair or could be fair. Depending on whether economic growth benefits the poorest or not, the spending on training of skilled workers, engineers, researchers, managers, bankers, corporate lawyers, who contribute to that growth, will have been more or less fair. Depending on whether the most educated people leave school with a feeling of solidarity with the poorest, or on the contrary with contempt and arrogance, depending on whether they devote more or less time, outside work, to activities in favour of these categories, the education system will have been more or less fair. Principle 8 The system of indicators must measure inequalities, but it must also identify the judgement of citizens about the equity of the current education system, and the criteria underlying that judgement. As we announced in the introduction, a special place must be kept for the judgement about educational equity expressed by the citizens or by the educational actors. However powerful the social mechanisms that produce education inequalities are, they can only be exercised if the citizens tolerate the action, in other words, a majority of them consider them, if not as just, at least as insufficiently unjust to accept the cost of a political battle against these mechanisms, or if that majority of citizens is not so sure that they are unjust that they would start that battle. If equity in education is a political problem, of course it is important to know that judgement and the criteria on which it is based. Questioning citizens from European Union Member States was beyond our reach. On the other hand, we carried out a study on students and teachers from our five countries. This related not only to the justice with which pupils are treated, as we saw before, but also to the idea the people questioned have about a fair educational system let s say based on their criteria of justice and their judgement on the equity of the educational system in general. Such a survey is not without difficulties. Questioning individuals about their criteria and feelings of justice may provide biased answers in three ways: the influence of the social environment may act on the criteria, and make comparisons difficult from one country to 24 Devising indicators of equity of educational systems : why and how?

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